Many enthusiasts believe that BMW has lost its way. Once the beacon of driving fun, the brand changed directions to cater to a broader audience. As a result, many of its vehicles became more attractive to average consumers but lost their edge. Unless you got a specific model or package, the fun quotient dropped a lot. However, electrification appears to have changed things because the 2022 BMW i4 gives a glimmer of hope. Despite using the same architecture as nearly every BMW sedan and SUV, this svelte four-door packs personality…a lot of it.
Looks that Divide
Essentially an all-electric 4 Series Gran Coupe, the 2022 BMW i4 sports the same low-slung, coupe-like shape. You get the same massive twin-kidney grille as the internal combustion version but the upper portion has been closed off. The car also gets BMW badges with blue surrounds and an i badge on the upper portion of the grille. You can add blue or grey exterior accents on the eDrive40 model and aerodynamic 19-inch alloy wheels like in this test vehicle. Should you want a sportier exterior, the M Sport package includes unique lower front and rear fascias, M Sport 19-inch wheels, and black window surrounds.
2022 BMW i4 Gran Coupe: Coupe with Extra Space
Think of the i4 as a coupe with two extra doors and additional cargo space. While the dimensions nearly mirror the two-door 4 Series, it gets more room for your stuff thanks to it being a hatch. BMW says the i4 has 10.0 cubic feet of capacity behind the rear seats but in reality, it has more thanks to its length. Folding the 40/20/40 split-folding second-row gives you an expansive cargo hold for bulky items. Unfortunately, the rear seats remain intimate. Due to the low roofline, head- and legroom are at a premium. Together with the small rear doors that don’t have a wide opening, getting in and out is a hassle. The larger center hump effectively turns this into a four-seater. As a result, it’s best to treat the i4 as a 2+2 despite having belts for three in the back and an extra set of doors.
As for fit and finish, the i4 lands squarely in the realm of luxury cars. It makes extensive use of soft-touch materials, a lot of padding, and buttons that feel satisfying to use. Like the standard 4 Series, the i4’s cabin features a horizontal cabin layout with its two massive displays and center stack angled towards the driver. Sadly, that means the design follows the same austere appearance that’s graced generations of BMWs. Despite the extensive use of blue accents, knurled knobs, and silver trim, the interior look plain and doesn’t stand out. Along with a distinct interior color, interesting surface treatments should liven up the i4’s interior. More sound deadening could quell the noticeable amounts of road and tire noise entering the cabin at highway speeds.
Like the iX SUV, the i4 uses BMW’s iDrive 8.0 interface with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 14.9-inch main touchscreen. This interface remains one of the best in class thanks to its intuitive controls, quick responses, and minimal submenus. Despite their crisp and fancy graphics, both displays present information clearly and logically with, and they offer extensive customization options. Although the virtual assistant refuses to tell jokes, it happily changes everything from climate settings to your drive modes. The 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system delivers a fantastic listening experience thanks to its clarity, customizability, and immersiveness.
BMW’s driver assistance technologies stand out for how natural they operate. Lane centering gently nudges back to center if you start to drift. Together with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, the i4 can also help you execute evasive maneuvers. Adaptive cruise control seamlessly follows traffic flow even in traffic and works with steering assist to help you complete turns safely at highway speeds. It can also detect oncoming turns and onramps on your route. The system even alerts you when certain components turn off due to road conditions. Quite possibly the best part is the distancing system, which does an incredible job maintaining your settings in a proactive manner. It reacts immediately but smoothly in situations like another car cutting you off or traffic ahead slowing down.
2022 BMW i4 Gran Coupe: Fun Comes Standard
Just because you got the base model doesn’t mean you’re losing out. The i4 doubles down on the driving experience and the rear-drive eDrive40 is the one to get if fun ranks high on your list. This car brings BMW back to its roots with a nicely tuned suspension that offers incredible handling. Together with 19-inch wheels wrapped in grippy performance tires and excellent body control, you get an approachable yet thrilling machine. Its RWD dynamics shine through turns because you can get the i4 to rotate controllably by feeding in more power and overdriving the rear wheels. The result? A car with neutral road manners that’s easy to drive and inspires confidence.
Highlighting the i4’s balance is its ride comfort. Yes, it veers on the stiff side but remains viable for road trips and daily commuting, giving you a good amount of road feel through the seats. Even with the largest wheel option on the i4 eDrive40 and wider, stickier rubber, you get tires with generous sidewall, adding another layer of isolation. However, certain surfaces and sharp impacts cause the car to get bouncy, particularly over big bumps and potholes.
As with most modern BMWs, there’s room for improvement in the steering department. While it’s quick and accurate, the system still feels numb and disconnected. The system lacks feedback, which results in the driver not feeling much from the steering wheel. Putting the system in Sport mode adds weight but doesn’t improve the sense of connection between you and the vehicle.
Power and Range
A potent powertrain complements the sophisticated ride and handling balance. The single rear-mounted electric motor makes 335 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque for effortless power and acceleration. Unlike some of its competitors, the i4’s unit doesn’t taper off at high speeds. This means you can mash the accelerator at 65 mph and still get pinned into your seat. Additionally, the car never feels like it’s running out of power, giving you a sense of effortlessness when you’re on the road.
The EPA rates the i4 eDrive40 at 301 miles per charge with 18-inch wheels and 282 miles on the larger 19-inch units. During my week, I managed to beat the official estimates on our test car equipped with the larger wheels, traveling 310 miles on a single charge. This makes the i4 a proper all-electric grand tourer with long-distance capability and enjoyable road manners.
Charging the i4’s 83.9-kWh battery (81.5 kWh usable capacity) from 10 to 80 percent takes 31 minutes according to BMW. Plugging in at 18 percent to a 350-kW DC charger, the car immediately exceeded its 200-kW peak rate. It hovered between 200 and 209 kW until 28 percent when it dropped to 185 kW. The charge rate fell to 164 kW at 35 percent then again to 147 kW at 42 percent. At 50 percent, the i4 was only taking in 107 kW before dropping to 80 kW at 60 percent. From 70 percent and up, the car only took in 54 kW. This shows that the charge rate lacks consistency due to its energy intake falling in large chunks. Had it stayed above 100 kW longer, the i4 would’ve DC charged quicker.
Personalization remains a hallmark of the BMW driving experience. The i4 takes things one step further via individual settings for Sport and Eco Pro modes. This lets drivers customize the vehicle to their liking. One setting that stands out is regenerative braking because you can choose between four strength levels without including the i4’s one-pedal driving mode. This allows you to select the strongest energy recuperation and drive the car like an internal combustion model. That means it creeps forward and you must use the brake pedal to come to a complete stop.
Unlike the iX, the i4 features a true one-pedal driving mode via its B mode. Lift off the accelerator gradually and the car slows down all the way to a standstill. This allows you to better control your speed while maximizing the amount of energy you gain back when slowing down. Regardless of the way you set up the car, it possesses seamless transitions from regenerative to mechanical braking. That allows you to stop smoothly in a consistent manner, even during emergencies when you’re forced to slam on the brake pedal.
How Much Does it Cost?
At $56,895, the i4 eDrive40 costs more than the Polestar 2 single-motor but less than Tesla Model 3 Long Range. This test car, which didn’t have specific features like ventilated front seats and the M Sport package, cost $64,820 before federal tax credits and other incentives. In typical BMW fashion, the i4’s price skyrockets if you get carried away with options. With every box checked, you can easily price the rear-drive eDrive40 up to $70,000. The 523-hp, dual-motor i4 M50 easily hits the $80,000 when fully equipped.
2022 BMW i4 Gran Coupe: Ultimate Driving Machine Once Again?
Driving the 2022 BMW i4 Gran Coupe resulted in so many revelations because it possesses so much personality. It takes the Ultimate Driving Machine mantra and applies it to a battery-electric vehicle with impressive results. This car restores the famed balance that BMWs were famous for and you don’t need to get something with an M badge. In the case of the i4, the eDrive40 provides the most fun behind the wheel, nicely blending power, agility, and daily usability. Vehicles like this prove that it’s not always the most potent version with the sharpest handling and highest capability that shines.
This model also cements the point that BMW intends to keep the mass appeal it developed after the E90 3 Series and E60 5 Series. It does this by making vehicles with distinct characters, some more comfort-focused than others. What ties their identities together as BMWs is that they offer better-than-usual road manners. Yes, the iX focuses on long-distance capability and comfort but it won’t fall flat if you tackle a challenging winding road. The i4, on the other hand, lands on the sporting side of the spectrum. It’s a GT car for the electric age, straddling the line between the compact and midsize segments. Yes, BMW still has work to do but progress is happening and the i4 proves that the automaker knows what needs addressing.